Tuesday, August 22, 2017

UFT's Fake History - Denies Responsibility for Creating ATR Pool

How did the ATR pool come to be?
The ATR pool — a reserve pool of teachers working as substitutes but without permanent assignments — was a personnel policy devised by the Bloomberg administration that was poorly designed and never effectively implemented, particularly after the pool expanded in the wake of school closings during the Bloomberg years. As the school-closing mania has receded, the size of the pool has diminished....
from UFT website, http://www.uft.org/press-releases/atr-qa

Jeff Kaufman posted on ICE(the caucus) -News.
 UFT had nothing to do with creating the ATR pool!?!
Before you read the UFT press release on ATRs, I though a review of the blogs Jeff published on the ICE blog in October 2005 would give you a good sense of what was going on in real time.
In reverse order - read from bottom up.

For immediate release

AUGUST 21, 2017
The recent Department of Education announcement about assigning teachers from the ATR pool to schools on a more permanent basis has awakened the usual opposition from the "school reform" crowd.
Below is a Q&A designed to provide accurate information to those who have questions about the issue.
"Teachers in the ATR pool are a valuable resource for the system and provide needed services to schools." —UFT President Michael Mulgrew
How did the ATR pool come to be?
The ATR pool — a reserve pool of teachers working as substitutes but without permanent assignments — was a personnel policy devised by the Bloomberg administration that was poorly designed and never effectively implemented, particularly after the pool expanded in the wake of school closings during the Bloomberg years. As the school-closing mania has receded, the size of the pool has diminished.
How do teachers end up in the pool?
Most of the teachers in the pool are there because their schools or their programs closed; a minority have been the subject of some kind of disciplinary action, though that action may have led only to a brief suspension or a fine of a few hundred dollars. The overwhelming majority of teachers in the ATR pool have received positive evaluations (Effective, Highly Effective or, for those rated under the previous system, Satisfactory).
How does the program now work?
ATR teachers are in the schools every day. Some get longer assignments, but many rotate among schools on a monthly basis, filling in for teachers who are sick or on some kind of leave.
Do the ATRs cost principals money?
ATRs on rotating assignments save the school system the cost of hiring a substitute. The Department of Education has created a number of financial incentives for principals to encourage them to hire ATRs on a more permanent basis, but the fact is that an ATR's salary constitutes a tiny percentage of a building's total teacher payroll, which for even a small school can exceed $3 million annually.
How will the new program work?
A number of ATRs will be assigned (in license) to schools ONLY where the principal has been unable to fill an open position. Without the presence of such an ATR, students would be faced with occasional and expensive part-time substitutes or a group of ATR teachers rotating in and out every month.
Mr. Mulgrew told the New York Times, “What we’re trying to do is give a more stable educational environment for the students.”
An ATR in this type of provisional assignment will become part of the school's regular faculty the next year if the teacher is rated Effective or Highly Effective.
What if the ATR and the principal don't see eye-to-eye?
To quote from the recent agreement with the DOE : "...AT ANY TIME [caps added] after a provisional assignment is made a principal can request the removal of the ATR from this assignment and the ATR can be returned to the ATR pool..."
What is the role of the disciplinary process?
Under state law, tenured teachers are guaranteed due process, including a hearing before an independent arbitrator, if they have been accused of some kind of misbehavior. Many disciplinary case brought by the Department of Education are not serious enough to justify a teacher being terminated. Cases are often resolved, either by an agreement or by an arbitrator’s decisions, with a fine or a suspension. Fines can be as little as $250, and suspensions as brief as one week. But even penalties like these can land a teacher in the ATR pool under current DOE practice.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

School Scope: A Barrage of News

The WAVE - August 18, 2017 - www.rockawave.com

School Scope:  A Barrage of News
By Norm Scott

There are so many things to write about. Here are just a few.

Events in Charlottesville: The new Brown Shirts, Free Speech and the Antifascists --- Are we echoing the pre-Hitler phase of Germany c. 1920s and early 30’s when a thug army rose up to intimidate people opposing the Nazis during their rise to power? Those interested should review the history – can it repeat itself here? The Nazis were always a minority in Germany and used street thug tactics to shut down opposition.
Also google “antifascists” – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anti-fascism#Twenty-first_century -- the response, sometimes violent, to these rallies – a relatively small group that can be confrontational. People on the left who contend that the Nazis were able to operate more freely because there was not enough of a counterforce against them. Trump’s initial statement was targeting the people who stood up against them, a false equivalency. As one who generally backs free speech, I’ve had issues with the antifascists when they try to keep speakers on campuses out --- but what happened in Charlotte called for a response – and in fact most of the demonstrators were peaceful. In Germany today a fascist rally would be illegal – you can get arrested for a Nazi salute. France too has many limits on what we would view as free speech but they view as hate speech. If we saw the new brown shirts holding torches and shouting white supremacy slogans marching in Rockaway how would we react? Sometimes I’m afraid of the answer.

Trump is for democracy – except when he isn’t. Saudi Arabia, Egypt - Si, Cuba, Venezuela Nay! Yes, we must have elections in only certain countries. It is always about the so-called left dictatorships – unless they are too big to battle. How about China? Trump bogus threat to send troops to Venezuela is just a part of our interference in the affairs of other nations. How about Regan invading Grenada to murder the elected president as recently as 35 years ago? Bay of Pigs anyone?

Ferry across the mercy – Ferry complainers, please have mercy on us. We are in only our 3rd month of a low-cost ferry, highly subsidized - real cost is over $6 a fare. Yet we hear so many beefs about small ferry boats, which work well most of the time. Imagine the costs of running bigger boats that are half empty all the time that would require even bigger subsidies? The company running the ferries have been responsive and have tried to add more runs  --- we need to see what happens in non-summer months to get a read. In January we may find these small boats are even bigger than we need for most runs.

The WAVE proclaimed a few weeks ago that B. 116th St unanimously supports de Blasio Republican opponent Nicole Malliotakis. Really? We know that de Blasio is very unpopular, especially on the west end of Rockaway. But I don’t view that report as good journalism without some facts to back it up. De Blasio blasting is certainly well-deserved but at times it goes too far. Just as in the presidential election outcomes we will find the breakdown between east and west end voting patterns will be stark and point to Rockaway as a tale of two cities. How about a report on where Mott Ave stands on Nicole Malliotakis?

Hurricane season is upon us: Climate change and deniers: People tell me there will one day be another ice age – normal cycles throughout earth history. What historical cycle had millions of cars spewing CO2 into the air?

Single payer: pushback from Democrats --- my recent articles on single payer in The WAVE should be seen in the context of gradualism. There are many ways to get there – there are quite a variety of single payer programs in Europe that differ from each other. A major issue here is losing the employer option for so many people – something that people deem so risky that some hybrid plan – ie, a public option – would be necessary.

Note from the World Bank: Cuba has the highest investment in education worldwide (13% of GNP vs USA 5.4%). Just sayin’.

Charter supporter Daniel Loeb, who is board chairman of Success Academy charter, has come under attack for comments about Democratic NY State leader Andrea Cousins in which he said the African-American had done “more damage to people of color than anyone who has ever donned a hood.” Coming a few days before events in Charlottesville. Loeb is a hedge hog billionaire out to destroy the teacher union and along the way, the teaching profession and the end of pensions for teachers. Success Academy may soon be granted massive exemptions from having to hire any certified teachers by being able to have their own, private, certification programs to counter the massive turnover of their own teachers, who often leave in droves. The NY Times on August 12 had an interesting story on this split in the Democratic Party over charters: Comment on Race Reopens New York Democrats’ Split Over Schools. My blog has more on the story with an article by Matt Taibbi on Loeb’s public employee pension hijinks where Loeb makes loads of money on pension plans while supporting groups that call for an end of such plans. After all, charters don’t want to have to compete by offering pensions so let’s get rid of all pensions. https://ednotesonline.blogspot.com/2017/08/taibbi-dan-loeb-simultaneously-solicits.html.

Norm has recovered from his exhausting role in RTC’s The Producers and is back blogging in force at ednotesonline.com.

Noam Chomsky: Antifa is a 'major gift to the Right'

I am still ambivalent about Antifa and will be posting links to the numerous articles that contrast them to the alt-right. But I bet Steve Bannon loves Antifa. My major problem is that through some process they decide what speech is hate and act to stop it. Which means any less radical speech than theirs can be subject to attack. I've seen in local orgs here how people feel they cannot express their views when they don't agree with aspects of black lives matter or how to view police are lectured and put in an ideological corner with a dunce hat.

As for physical confrontation, Chomsky says we always know who loses --- think - police, military mostly side with the right.

Now note --- this is the Washington Examiner -- with an agenda.

Noam Chomsky: Antifa is a 'major gift to the Right'
by |

The United States was never immune to fascism. Not then, not now | David Motadel - Opinion - The Guardian

At a rally at Madison Square Garden in New York on 20 February 1939, a crowd of 20,000 listened to Kuhn attacking President Franklin D Roosevelt, referring to him as “Frank D Rosenfeld” and calling his New Deal a “Jew Deal”.
The gathering ended in violent clashes between protesters and participants. Similar riots took place on the west coast.
Obsessed with fantasies about a Jewish-Communist world conspiracy and fears about an African American corruption of American culture, its followers promoted racism, extreme nationalism, violence and the ideal of an aggressive masculinity. They competed against various other militant fringe groups, from the Khaki Shirt movement, which aimed to build a paramilitary force of army veterans to stage a coup, to the paramilitary Black Legion, feared for its assassinations, bombings and acts of arson.... America in the 1930s
It has never been more important to acknowledge the history of fascism and neo-fascism in America
.... The Guardian
Through the lens of history is how I look at all current - and future events - which we can predict to some extent by studying past tendencies - ie - look at the root of WWI - not just from the political maelstrom - but from the view of how the populace was manipulated into nationalism. Once we got in the repression was intense for those who opposed it.

Now, if you look at the 30s in this country we can see how much support Hitler had in this country and especially in England - which was why Churchill was so hated until is was almost too late.

Check out the video of the over 20,000 Hitler supporter in Madison Square Garden here in good old NYC in 1939.

If you missed the recently rebroadcast of The Roosevelts on PBS, go check it out to see what went on. Message to Jews nowadays who disparage Roosevelt as an anti-semite because he didn't sanction Jewish refugees. In that environment it was impossible.

The antifa of those days were involved in battling the fascists.


Note the links to things like - 1947 anti-fascist video made by US military to teach citizens how to avoid falling for people like Trump is relevant again.

Here is the complete article.

2003 Redux -- AFT Executive Council Supports U.S. Action to Disarm Iraq.

In 2010 in Seattle, Leo Casey motivated (probably wrote) a before-the-fact justification for US military action against Iran. The AFT may jump on-board some antiwar campaigns, after the entire political mood has shifted in that direction, but at its core it's still pro-war.

I added the above comment to this original post as an intro to the cold warriors and war hawks still running our national, state, and local union....

For decades my colleagues in a certain segment of the UFT opposition have tagged our union's support for the war machine, which is part of the Democratic Party mantra. Like you hear them talk about underfunded education but never about vastly over funded military, which chews up the budget. I once told Al Shanker at a DA in 1976 that when it came to guns or butter our union chooses guns.

Mike Antonucci is on vacation and is posting from the vault -- this one is a goodie about our union leadership's support for the war machine and the invasion of Iraq -- history they continue to try to bury. Is there a statue of Randi we can bring down?

From the Vault: January 27, 2003


AFT Executive Council Supports U.S. Action to Disarm Iraq. In a noteworthy display of contrariness, the American Federation of Teachers Executive Council passed a resolution supporting U.S. and international efforts to disarm Iraq. The AFT resolution came as something of a surprise, since there is a concerted effort among activists nationwide to promote anti-war resolutions among the public education establishment. AFT reported that the resolution passed “by an overwhelming margin,” but since most Executive Council resolutions pass unanimously, it is clear that the resolution faced some strong opposition. This most probably came from the California Federation of Teachers, which already has its own resolution in place condemning any contemplated action against Iraq and denouncing the “so-called war on terrorism.”

The AFT resolution takes several swipes at the Bush administration, but it places the onus of possible military action squarely on Iraq itself. “Through its actions and ambitions,” the resolution states, “this regime has demonstrated that it poses a unique threat to the peace and stability of the Middle East, to the peaceful world order promoted by the ideals of the United Nations and, therefore, to the national security interests of the United States.”

The resolution also notes that AFT, “along with the AFL-CIO, recognizes that the U.S. may at times have to act unilaterally in defense of its national security.” The resolution similarly concludes, “For its part, the AFT believes there can be no equivocation. The Iraqi regime must disarm. It must comply fully and completely with appropriate United Nations resolutions or face military action.”

Friday, August 18, 2017

ATR Update - DOE Will Subsidize Salaries -- Chalkbeat

The news that the DOE will subsidize - 50% in first and 25% in 2nd year is an admission that things haven't been going too well -- and we all said that the high salaries -- avg $94 thousand a year -- will keep even the best teachers in the ATR pool. There are supposedly 822 in the pool, averaging 18 years in the system. Experience, you know, doesn't count - unless you are an airline pilot - or lawyer -- or doctor - or anything except a teacher.

Maybe I missed it but I still don't see signs of direct contact with ATRs in this piece. Note how they present the info -- Two thirds of ATRs come from closed schools or budget cuts but CB emphasizes that one third are there for some disciplinary reasons with no attempt to break those numbers down --- this punches holes in the ed deformers attempt to paint ATRs as consisting of bad eggs. We know all too many people under the discipline category who were fined or brought up on some bogus issues. Let me get this clear --one third of 822 is less than 300 in a system of 100,000 personnel  -- think of all the sturm and drang over a handful of people.

They do at least point out that some people leave the ATR pool for a year or more at a time but are not permanently hired and return to the pool. They are doing regular teaching jobs. Too bad they didn't try to get the DOE to give them better numbers on this category.

Of course they have a quote from that Student First idiot Jenny Sedlis -- who supports no certification for teachers.
StudentsFirstNY Executive Director Jenny Sedlis called the move “shockingly irresponsible” in a statement. “There are reasons why no principal has chosen to hire them and this policy is bad for kids, plain and simple,” she said.
I love this closing comment which exhibits a shortage of journalistic pursuit:
27 percent — are licensed to teach in early childhood or elementary school grades. Another 11 percent are licensed social studies teachers, 9 percent are math teachers and 8 percent are English teachers. Questions have been raised in the past about whether the teachers in the pool had skills that were too narrow or out of date. A 2010 Chalkbeat story found that a quarter of teachers then in the pool were licensed to teach relatively obscure classes like swimming, jewelry-making and accounting.
Who exactly raised those questions about narrow skills? Let's do some math -- 9%-math, 8% English, 11% social studies, 27% elementary. That adds up to 55%. Almost half are high school. Are they swimming, jewelry making and accounting? What about science, teach, language teachers, vocational ed licenses, phys ed - which would include the swimming? I suggest they go back to the DOE and find out exactly how people are teaching jewelry making -- there may be a test on that soon.

NYC announces it will subsidize hiring from Absent Teacher Reserve — and sheds light on who is in the pool


Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Success Academy's Loeb latest Insults - How About Them Schwarzes?

To be clear: racism is not just carrying a torch in Charlottesville, or writing a bigoted comment on Facebook. Racism is also the failure of those in power to hold white supremacists accountable for actions and words that harm and demean people of color.
Cuomo, Klein and Flanagan may not be carrying tiki torches, but they are implicitly endorsing racism from certain donors like Loeb who send the biggest checks.
...Loeb has previously compared teachers’ unions to the KKK, and he referred to a Prem Watsa, an insurance company CEO of Indian ancestry as a “schwarze” – a derogatory Yiddish phrase for blacks. Yet he continues to sit on the board of the Success Academy charter school network, and he is among the top political contributors to Gov. Andrew Cuomo and other prominent elected officials in New York. 

..... Zakiyah Ansari,

It keeps getting worse.  Loeb called someone a "schwarze" in email.  Message to Eva and Success: Not who you want heading
Daniel Loeb Vision of UFT Meetings
your school board where 93% of the kids are kids of color. Or any school board for that matter. Word is that with the resignation of DFER head Shavar Jeffries (still a scuzball in my book) there is not one person of color on the Success main board.

More News:  

Is America Headed for a New Kind of Civil War? --- The New Yorkker

in April, Amazon selected the dystopian novel “American War”—which centers on a second U.S. civil war—as one of its best books of the month. In a review in the Washington Post, Ron Charles wrote, “Across these scarred pages rages the clash that many of us are anxiously speculating about in the Trump era: a nation riven by irreconcilable ideologies, alienated by entrenched suspicions . . . both poignant and horrifying.” The Times book reviewer noted, “It’s a work of fiction. For the time being, anyway.”
... Robin Wright, Is America Headed for a New Kind of Civil War?, The New Yorker
I've been waiting to read American War for months and have it on order from the library. Sometimes I think that maybe Lincoln should have let the south secede -
I have been seeing parallels between now and the 1850s --- those times are really worth studying. So I was interested to read this section:
Before Charlottesville, David Blight, a Yale historian, was already planning a conference in November on “American Disunion, Then and Now.” “Parallels and analogies are always risky, but we do have weakened institutions and not just polarized parties but parties that are risking disintegration, which is what happened in the eighteen-fifties,” he told me. “Slavery tore apart, over fifteen years, both major political parties. It destroyed the Whig Party, which was replaced by the Republican Party, and divided the Democratic Party into northern and southern parts.”
“So,” he said, “watch the parties” as an indicator of America’s health.
This is one reason I have been posting so many articles on the divisions in the Democratic Party. Some people think the left is winning (not the far left which eschews parties other than their own). Others think the center is winning -- I believe the latter -- that the left is incapable of organizing itself to take over the party. Thus I lean toward the idea that the Dems will split.  But yes, watch the parties as an indicator.

I found this point interesting:
Gregory Downs, a historian at the University of California at Davis, told me. During the Civil War, even Southern politicians who denounced or were wary of secession for years—including Jefferson Davis—ended up as leaders of the Confederacy. “If the source of conflict is deeply embedded in cultural or social forces, then politicians are not inherently able to restrain them with calls for reason,” Downs said. He called the noxious white supremacists and neo-Nazis the “messengers,” rather than the “architects,” of the Republic’s potential collapse. But, he warned, “We take our stability for granted.”
Read my last post on the Jews who will support Trump no matter how many Nazis are marching. By the way -- I have been watching The Roosevelts on PBS - must see for so much to connect to what is going on today -- from both Teddy's (1898-1918) and Franklin's key years (1910-1940's). One fact was how in 1939 - polls showed that over 90% of Protestants and over 80% of Catholics opposed taking in refugees (many Jewish) -- here's a factoid -- 25% of Jews also were opposed -- in my last post we used figures of around 30% of Jews support Trump NMW - No Matter What.

Is America Headed for a New Kind of Civil War?


Why Trump’s Jewish Backers Love the Alt-Right -- Daily Beast

Everything about this loathsome affair should have crossed a line for American Jews: the messaging, the violence, the size, and most of all the two days it took Trump to condemn “racism” specifically—although still not the alt-right itself. As one rabbinic friend of mine put it on Facebook, “Egyptians throw Jewish babies in the Nile; Pharaoh condemns violence on many sides.” As a rabbi myself, I have never felt so alienated from my own country as I did on Sunday and Monday....
And yet, none of it did cross a line. There was not a peep of remorse from Trump’s prominent Jewish supporters.
Because, in fact, there is no line. Like a proverbial frog in boiling water, it should be clear by now that almost no increase in anti-Semitsm or racism will separate these Jews from the man who encourages their most bitter enemies.
------ ,

30% of Jews are now supporting right wing views -- and they are growing as the orthodox have many more kids than secular Jews.
This article says that nothing will make these Jews waver from Trump support -- I imagine even if he walked around with a Nazi arm band.
We know family who line up this way.
This is a must read, especially for complacent Jews.

Why Trump’s Jewish Backers Love the Alt-Right

08.15.17 1:00 AM ET

The shocking mainstreaming of anti-Semitism reinforces the Jewish right’s worldview and its support of Israel’s hard-right fringe.

 Will Donald Trump’s belated condemnation of racism be enough to assuage his Jewish backers—at last count, roughly 30 percent of the American Jewish community—even though it took him two days to make it, and even though the Charlottesville march was advertised with violently anti-Semitic rhetoric and imagery?Of course it will.

No amount of cognitive dissonance is too great for Trump’s Jewish backers, from high-profile ones like embattled lawyer Michael “Says Who?” Cohen to everyday Jews in the pews. Why? It’s not just Israel, although that’s a big part of it. Nor is it just about Jared and Ivanka. Nor is it blindness to the anti-Semitism and racism rampant among Trump’s hard core base.

Quite the contrary. Trump’s Jewish supporters are well aware of the alt-right, and in a perverse way, they thrive on it. The shocking mainstreaming of anti-Semitism reinforces their worldview, their political ideology, and their support of Israel’s hard-right fringe.
First, to be clear, the “Unite the Right” rally and Trump’s typical and tepid first response to it, was a watershed moment in American anti-Semitism. While the racism of KKK-supporting, Confederate flag-waving white supremacists was justifiably at the forefront of media coverage, the branding and execution of the event was explicitly anti-Semitic.

“Join Azzmador and The Daily Stormer to end Jewish influence in America,” proclaimed the neo-Nazi Daily Stormer’s advertisement of the event, accompanied by a Nazi-like figure wielding a hammer, ready to smash a Jewish star. 

At the Saturday evening march on the University of Virginia campus, tiki-torch-bearing white nationalists chanted “Jew will not replace us” interchangeably with “You will not replace us”—both familiar white nationalist slogans.

And, of course, Trump’s initial statement, condemning violence on “many sides” and refusing to call out his white nationalist supporters, was the most astonishing presidential accommodation of racism and anti-Semitism since the Wilson administration.
Everything about this loathsome affair should have crossed a line for American Jews: the messaging, the violence, the size, and most of all the two days it took Trump to condemn “racism” specifically—although still not the alt-right itself. As one rabbinic friend of mine put it on Facebook, “Egyptians throw Jewish babies in the Nile; Pharaoh condemns violence on many sides.” As a rabbi myself, I have never felt so alienated from my own country as I did on Sunday and Monday.

And yet, none of it did cross a line. There was not a peep of remorse from Trump’s prominent Jewish supporters.
Because, in fact, there is no line. Like a proverbial frog in boiling water, it should be clear by now that almost no increase in anti-Semitsm or racism will separate these Jews from the man who encourages their most bitter enemies.

To be sure, the most obvious reasons for their resilient support—Israel, Israel, and Israel—are quite salient. Some, though by no means most, Jews are indeed “Israel First” voters, and all of them are hard-right-wing. To them, supporting Israel means not coaxing Israel to the negotiating table so that it can reach a sustainable two-state solution with Palestine, but subsidizing settlements, right-wing yellow journalism, and right-wing political campaigns, all the while chanting that Americans should not tell Israel what to do.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

If you believe Trump about those beseiged Nazis and KKK by the Alt-Left -- Read this from Greg Pallast

Show this to any of your friends and family who think the alt-right were just peaceful protestors attacked by the alt-left.
A gun in his face, but he got the photo

By Greg Palast

(Charlottesville) Four neo-Nazis beat black school teacher Deandre Harris with iron bars and lumber. ©Zach D Roberts 2017

Don’t look away.  Four white neo-Nazis are beating a Black man, crawling on the ground, with their metal poles and a yellow hunk of lumber. The beating continues – there’s blood on the pavement.

Our photographer, Zach D. Roberts, continues to shoot – even as a white militant raises a 9mm pistol to his face.

Taibbi: Dan Loeb Simultaneously Solicits, Betrays Pension Funds

There's confidence. There's chutzpah. And then there's Dan Loeb, hedge fund king extraordinaire and head of Third Point Capital, who's getting set to claim the World Heavyweight Championship of Balls... Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone
Matt Taibbi's take down of Loeb seems to be inspired by Loeb's comments on Andrea Cousins and his links to Eva and Success Academy - he is on their board. Taibbi cuts him up:
Dan Loeb, who isn't known as the biggest hedge-fund asshole still working on Wall Street (only because Stevie Cohen hasn't been arrested yet), is on the board and co-founder of a group called Students First New York. And the national Students First organization has been one of the leading advocates pushing for states to abandon defined benefit plans – packages which guarantee certain retirement benefits for public workers like teachers – in favor of defined contribution plans, where the benefits are not guaranteed.In other words, Loeb has been soliciting the retirement money of public workers, then turning right around and lobbying for those same workers to lose their benefits.
The NYT had an interesting piece on Saturday:
Comment on Race Reopens New York Democrats’ Split Over Schools -- 
Politicians who have long benefited from Mr. Loeb’s generosity scurried for cover and distance. And his enemies pounced.

Mayor Bill de Blasio and his wife, Chirlane McCray, called on Friday for Mr. Loeb to step down from his post as chairman of Success Academy, a major charter schools network. Democratic groups in New York and beyond pushed Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo to return the $170,000 he had raised from Mr. Loeb and his wife over the years, including at a fund-raiser two years ago at Mr. Loeb’s Hamptons home.

The day’s events captured years of interwoven and lingering grievances that have defined Democratic politics in New York. On one side are left-leaning Democrats like Mr. de Blasio and the Assembly speaker, Carl M. Heastie, who have traditional ties to the powerful teachers union. On the other are those backed by donors who support charter schools, politicians like Mr. Cuomo and Senator Jeffrey D. Klein, the leader of the renegade Independent Democratic Conference.
Chalkbeat had links to all the articles on Loeb:
POOR POST In remarks made well before this weekend's events, Daniel Loeb, chairman of Success Academy's board, sparked outrage after writing that an African-American New York state senator had done “more damage to people of color than anyone who has ever donned a hood." Chalkbeat, Wall Street Journal, Politico New York, New York Times, New York Daily News, Business Insider, Newsweek
Mayor Bill de Blasio and Al Sharpton both called for Loeb's resignation. New York Daily News
The New York Post's editorial board defended Loeb, arguing that his broader critique is correct, while the Daily News said he should "slink away."  New York Post, New York Daily News
Loeb gave the the maximum allowable donation to presumptive Republican mayoral nominee Nicole Malliotakis. Gotham Gazette
SPLITTING UP Democrats for Education Reform President Shavar Jeffries is no longer on the board of Success Academy, Politico reported on Monday. His departure highlights a growing divide among charter supporters about how to deal with the Trump administration. Chalkbeat, Politico
SPEAKING UP At a political rally on Monday, New York State Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins weighed-in on racial comments by Success Academy chair Daniel Loeb. She stopped short of calling for his removal after Loeb wrote on Facebook that the senator has done “more damage to people of color than anyone who has ever donned a hood.” ChalkbeatNew York Times
At the rally, pols called for Democrats to take control of the state Senate, and Comptroller Scott Stringer said he will use a $4,500 donation from Loeb in 2011 to help make that happen. New York Daily News, Observer
The entire Taibbi article below the break:

Dan Loeb Simultaneously Solicits, Betrays Pension Funds

Union leaders – don't fund your demise by investing with this hedge fund king

Monday, August 14, 2017

The Liberal Crackup - WSJ

Mark Lilla is controversial and I have some essential disagreements with the way this WSJ article is framed -- including the definition of liberalism -- political liberalism --  not the same view of economic liberalism - morphed into neo-liberalism --  freedom from govt and and open markets being the rule - capitalism run amuck. But then again they might be the same ultimately -- though classic American liberals do seem to believe in strong govt regs -- ie FDR -- but them again they might be better termed as social-democrats -- ie- Bernie -- who I believe would reject the classification as a liberal - but I will try to get into that another time. What interests me about this is that this is taking place all over the place, including behind the scenes in our own caucus, MORE.

What interests me is how he addresses "the left", the concept of liberals, and identity politics which he views as divisive. I have seen over my almost 5 decades of work in UFT caucuses just how divisive these issues can be -- in the groups in the 70s, ICE and MORE. I hope to delve into some of these local divisions in future posts --- I'm posting this and some other articles as they come up as a reference point to these future writings.

The Saturday Essay
The Liberal Crackup
By Mark Lilla
Aug. 12, 2017

Liberals should reject the divisive, zero-sum politics of identity and find their way back to a unifying vision of the common good
Donald Trump’s surprise victory in last year’s presidential election has finally energized my fellow liberals, who are networking, marching and showing up at town-hall meetings across the country. There is excited talk about winning back the White House in 2020 and maybe even the House of Representatives in the interim.
But we are way ahead of ourselves—dangerously so. For a start, the presidency just isn’t what it used to be, certainly not for Democrats. In the last generation, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama won the office with comfortable margins, but they were repeatedly stymied by assertive Republicans in Congress, a right-leaning Supreme Court and—what should be the most worrisome development for Democrats—a steadily growing majority of state governments in Republican hands.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Memo From the RTC: “The Producers” - Leftovers

Published Aug. 11, 2017 in The Wave, www.rockawave.com

Memo From the RTC: “The Producers”  - Leftovers
By Norm Scott

Well, it’s over. Ten sold out performances with many standing ovations and accolades ringing throughout the peninsula calling the Rockaway Theatre Company production of The Producers the “best show ever” and “better than the Nathan Lane/Mathew Broderick Broadway production.”

Being in a position to see the show so many times gave me an appreciation of the beautiful structure of the script as one scene flows into another to build a farcical story line. Ultimately, this is not just a play mocking Hitler and the Nazi Party, but also a buddy story about two guys (a Jewish Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid?) who are as different as you can imagine who ultimately come to love each other – and Ulla too, even though the unlikely Bloom is the one who ends up with her. (I can’t tell you how many people made the point that Catherine Leib should be on Broadway.)

The timing and interplay between actors Jeremy Plyburn and Craig Evans, who were new to each other and the RTC, was remarkable. There is also the love story between Roger De Bris, the always amazing Erech Holder-Hetmeyer, and Carmen Ghia, as  Brian Sadwoski who goes over the top as an actor. As cast member and teacher Janet Miserandino (nun and old lady) says of Brian who is her boss, “We don’t see this Brian at our school.” And then of course the love affair between the pigeons and Franz Liebkind where John Panepinto brings down the house with every appearance. When Adolph the pigeon raises one wing (with a Nazi armband) in a salute, rolls of laughter. Even if you went in squeamish about all that Nazi stuff I didn’t see any signs of over sensitivity – though I did read that two tourists were arrested in Germany for doing the Nazi salute, which is illegal there (for somewhat obvious reasons). Almost the entire cast would be in jail there. I wonder if The Producers itself is a play that cannot be performed in Germany. We did have a German dancer and singer in the show from Stuttgart  (Veronica Bochynek – www.veronika.dance) and I imagine some of the Mel Brooks over the top satire might have caused some discomfort. 

Many people in Rockaway don’t believe that it is possible to have Broadway quality performance in our community or are just not  interested in the theater. On my own block I know only two households that come to RTC productions. Well, given the scarcity of seats the past three weeks, we couldn’t fit them in anyway – as for extending performances – the burden asked of the entire crew, performers and production team – working without pay after months of rehearsal—is just too much.

Sunday’s final performance was a bittersweet event. People who have worked so hard for months have seen the fruition of their efforts – in this case bringing joy and laughter to the thousands of attendees. Catherine Leib (Ulla) in thanking the backstage production team (which also includes some of the actors) said in Sunday’s final pre-performance meeting that they made it possible for the performers to bring this joy to people and to fulfill their own dreams of being on stage.

Sunday’s show ended around 5PM. Everyone was told they had to clean up the dressing room, store all costumes, clean out their cubbies, etc. to make room for the next show coming in before they would be allowed to eat at the cast party (catered by Thai Rock). When I left around 8:45, the stage still had about 30 cast and behind the scenes members dancing and carrying on. They didn’t want it to end. After all, the cast and crew become like a family over so many months and breaking up is hard to do.

We were treated to delicious desserts from our own local
Jannicke's Amazing cake
Cakeline, Inc. which donates delicious cookies and cakes to every performance. And also from one of our performers, Trinidad-Tobago native Jannicke Steadman-Charles whose mom
Denise and Jannicke
Denise Eversley (my dance partner in La Cage) was also in the show and had her first speaking part. (Her other daughter Renee Steadman-Titus who has graced so many of our shows had other commitments.) About half way through the party, Jannicke unveiled her fabulous creation, cake looking so good honoring The Producers (see photo), we almost didn’t want to ruin it but eat it we did and it was beyond delicious. Jannicke is a professional baker who works at the Institute of Culinary Education and if you are looking for unique desserts you can contact her at: jannickesteadman@gmail.com.

The breakdown and construction team under the leadership of Tony Homsey is its own little family –  involved in every single show and gets to work with all the directors. Besides myself, Cliff Hesse (master of all trades who acts and paints and designs sets), Frank Verderame (when he is not playing with his dogs or writing novels and plays), Roger Sarmuksnis and recently, Scholars Academy 15 year old junior Steven Wagner, who is eager to learn all aspects of theater from acting to set construction.

Elephant Man set going up
This past week we (sadly) took down the set and put up the basic set for Elephant Man, opening Sept. 15 and running for only two weekends – get your reservations in - you know that the increasing popularity of the RTC will fill seats. Hotline: 718-374-6400.

Let me end this series of columns with my personal thanks to Director John Gilleece and Producer Susan Jasper for thinking of me for the part of the judge, a small 9-line role – yes, I kept my script in front of me just in case. I get to send the boys up the river, though I will admit that before passing judgment, having the beautiful Ulla making eyes at me as an attempted
Here comes the judge
bribe to let her hubby and his partner off, I was pretty tempted at the final performance to say “You are free to go.” (John and Susan would have loved that.) In my version of alt-history, Ulla runs off with the judge.

Norm sends the NYC Department of Education up the river daily on his blog, ednotesonline.com.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

A first-person account of an ATR teacher in New York City Public Schools - Seeing The Positives

I've told my story (Attacks on ATRs is Spear at All Teachers Plus Why Not Have a Permanent Corps of ATR) of being an ATR in my first year and a half as a teacher from Sept. 1967-Feb. 1969 -- an experience that I believe turned me from a no-nothing 6-week summer trainee -- ala TFA -- into a confident teacher. So I found this email from Ed Notes reader Nick Weber confirms my thesis that using a permanent ATR corp for beginning teachers as a sort of apprenticeship would make sense --  also cost so much less because it would consist of beginning teachers -- we need subs anyway so why not make use of them but add the mission that schools they are attached to would also function like teaching hospitals? Re-branding the ATR program in this way would lead to buy in -- having extra hands on deck in schools can never hurt.

Here is Nick's intro:
As one of the youngest ATR's in the city (30) I have been an ATR for the past three years, and have been reading the accounts from "journalists" that fail to even ask an ATR their take on the process. While I note the difficulties inherent with not being given a restroom key, unfair evaluation, and being treated by some as a second class citizen; this is not the totality of my experience.

As the old adage goes, when life throws us lemons...  In light of this sentiment, below you will find my positive take on the experience, and the positive experiences I have been able to collect from it.  It has provided me one of the most unexpected life experiences, and one that has enriched me as a professional and person.   I humbly offer the following account below, in the hopes that you may publish it with my name, so that we may turn the tide on the representation of what is a cadre of highly trained and brilliant professionals, enriching schools across our City in wonderful ways.

----ATR Nick Weber
I can imagine the storm this posting will incur from a certain segment of the besieged ATR community. Nick is 30 years old and has a long way to go in the system so he has a perspective that may differ from long-time teachers. I do want to echo some of the points he makes about being able to visit many other classrooms as opposed to the isolating experience when you are a "normal" teacher. We know from some prominent ATRS - Eterno, Portelos, Zucker that they have managed to handle things pretty well -- James is the only one who has had a stable situation - relatively.

The press doing reporting on ATRs might want to chat with Nick and get his perspective. 
A first-person account of an ATR teacher in New York City Public Schools 

The Traveling Teacher

It is a rare and select opportunity for an educator to receive an invitation to visit another classroom within their own school site, let alone a chance to visit over three dozen school sites as a faculty member of each community.  In spite of the rarity, my assignment for the past three years within the Department of Education has been to do just this:  teach students in classrooms across schools, grade levels, and content areas.  It has been an unexpected blessing that provided me an opportunity to grow in unique ways I never imagined possible. To help populations of students I never imagined that I would work with, and learn from dozens of professionals who, in total, have several millennia of classroom years of experience. This account of my experience has to be abridged in order to present some of the insights of my time as an ATR.  It is an account that reveals, a side of being an ATR which has been beneficial to increasing my teaching ability and practice. 

The assignment of schools for ATR teachers remains a veiled calculus that is beyond analysis.  For our purposes, ATR teachers are sent into literally any DOE institution and regardless of their licensure and work to “cover” any topic or grade level.  My personal experience teaching as an ATR ranges from Pre-K all the way through senior year. A non-exhaustive list of content domains I have taught are as follows; Algebra, Geometry, Calculus, Chemistry, American History, Global History, Art, Design, Physics, Spanish, Latin, American-American Literature, American Literature, Theater, Music, Economics, Physical Education, Business Marketing, Coding, and library sciences.  This constant rotation has afforded me insight into how students learn, across content areas, and among the most diverse student population in the world. It has granted me the opportunity to peer into diverse school communities and learn how they function from my interactions with principals, assistant principals, teacher leaders, teachers, students, food service workers, School Safety Agents, and custodial staffs.  With reflection, these experiences have enabled me to understand public education in New York City as an ingrained member of a school community, with teaching obligations parallel to fellow educators, yet under a rotating set of conditions.  

Switching both the school and classroom setting permits an amazing level of professional growth, should one engage in the teaching process with fidelity.  My experience being an ATR was to treat every classroom, as my classroom.  Every lesson, as if I had weeks to craft it, not merely hours.  Every student, as my student.  

Working with over seven thousand students and hundreds of colleagues, it is a rare day that goes by when I don’t run into someone who I taught or worked with over the past few years. Sharing a smile and pleasant conversation to catch up with them, has been a true blessing of this constant rotation.  Updates abound with their college success, career growth, entrepreneurial endeavors, volunteering, military service, and persistent growth and learning, among a cadre of students who face no shortage of adversity against them.  The more students I teach and professionals I work with -- the more I discover that the human condition is categorically similar.  When we invest with kindness, support, and care for a generation; the result is a success all around. 
ATR teachers are often considered merely substitutes. This is an unfortunate understanding,  and should the ATR view themselves as such, would result in a self-fulfilling prophecy.  The facts are less glamorous than sensationalist accounts.  In contrast to the experience of being a substitute, the average ATR teacher has years, even decades of experience.  Hence, divergent from a substitute walking into a classroom, ATR educators are full-fledged teachers, who understand classroom dynamics, pedagogy, learning theory, and evaluation. 
That is to say, ATR teachers who constantly strive to perfect their teaching methods and reflect on every lesson, are able to experience an enormous amount of growth within a framework where change is the rule, rather than the exception.  With every class and student I teach, I reflect on what aspects of the lesson were successful, and what aspects of the lesson should be altered next time for improvement?  Research and our own personal experiences reveal that when teachers remain static, their lessons slowly ossify, and student interest decreases. Any pedagogue will acknowledge, that decreased student engagement results in lower student learning.  Teachers who remain, avid learners, are the ones who meet the greatest success. 

Within the United States, the current method of teacher preparation frequently compartmentalizes teacher training into both grade and subject-level specializations.  Frequently, this specialization comes at a cost of understanding the continuity of learning from pre-K to grade 12. While it is imperative to prepare teachers to understand the content and pedagogy with respect to subject domain (i.e. Middle School math, high school Chemistry; grade level 12 Economics), the process of teacher preparation may serve to isolate the teacher beyond what is needed or beneficial.  Teachers must be able to understand how learning occurs, and see the connections across grade level, student populations and understand barriers to learning. 

Evidence of hyper-specialization within education abounds. Teachers often identify strongly as history teachers, math teachers, and science teachers.  Yet, does not every subject impact another?  Should teachers (and administrators) not understand how students learn across content areas? Are not the most brilliant discoveries often found by researchers working outside their field of direct experience?  If so, we must expressly ensure teachers see connections, strategies, and methods across content areas. 

The world of today places great emphasis and opportunity on students who can see connections across domains and specializations. Our economy values individuals who have diverse skill-sets, and are able to reach across specializations. Innovation demands that we prepare students to create, rather than solely to perform within a limited task range. Thus, our teacher preparation must reflect this. 

Preparing an English teacher to teach High School, results in teachers who encounter challenges with supporting who enter high school reading at the 6th-grade level.  Alternatively, middle school math teachers, may not understand the rigors of Algebra on the 9th-grade level and thus fail to prepare a continuity of instruction for their pupils to engage with instruction on the high school level.  This is not a fault of the teacher, but rather a system of teacher preparation that focuses on a single subject and grade level.  I title hyper-focused content area specialization,  ‘silos of instruction’. These silos, unfortunately, carry all the way through teacher preparation and are maintained within many schools.  My integration into around three dozen school communities, permit me to see the inefficiency many schools experience with single subject content area teams.  An example of this is when high school math departments, fail to realize many of their English language students perform poorly on state math exams as a product of language deficits, rather than mathematic difficulties.  A partnership between these departments could address such concerns.  

Teaching across student populations and content domains,  aided my ability to view how student psychological, social, and academic development occurs.  In contrast to remaining with solely one student population, being an ATR grants insight into how students acquire knowledge at all grade levels of the public school. The ATR teacher, given their expansive placement with regard to grade and content domain; has the opportunity to see not only grade level benchmarks but additionally content area connections.  They have the chance to see the connections between literature on the elementary level, and mathematics benchmarks on the tenth grade.  No other teaching opportunity within our City or nation provides this diversity of applied growth and learning for teachers.  For rather than being an observer there to 'evaluate' learning, ATR teachers are in the classroom as a co-constructor of knowledge.  For example, I have witnessed how deficiencies regarding reading, translate as barriers to understanding math concepts when instructed and evaluated with a high degree of written instructions.  Using the tools  I have gained while teaching both concurrently,  has helped me to facilitate student learning to address these challenges. 

Teaching methods are critical to engaging students in the learning process.  One of the benefits of ATR rotation is the chance to acquire new "tools" or teaching methods.  Working with around 70 co-teachers (classrooms with both a special education and general education teacher in the room) I have had the chance to acquire a host of teaching strategies. One of my favorite teaching growth activities is to adapt and implement strategies in unconventional manners to increase student learning.  Take for example my use of "foldables" (a  project most often associated with English Language Arts methods) to increase Algebra passing rates.  Along with a co-teacher, we planned lessons using these manipulatives and found that students increased their pass rate of the state Regents Exams to one of the highest in the school.  The process of working with so many different and amazingly talented educators in the City, has been one of true joy and a professional honor.  Viewing how teachers adapt to students, integrate their interests and needs into the lessons they teach, and passionately support students far beyond the scope of their duties, reveals the level of professional dedication of so many teachers.  While the role of ATR is particularly suited to working with diverse professionals across content areas, I encourage regularly assigned teachers to simply ask around their school to find amazing educators, and engage in peer observation with fellow teachers. 

ATR assignments to school communities for myself have ranged from a single week to around eight months in duration.  Within so many school communities, I have discovered that the school climate and culture may be radically divergent. The diversity of school environment is something to be encouraged.  For example, students at Art and Design High School in Manhattan often express their creativity via sketches and artwork they draw in their portfolio notebooks, purchased in the school store which sells them to students at cost.  In contrast, schools such as Grammercy Arts, focus their artistic expression most profoundly through theater arts such as drama and dance.  To comparatively evaluate the “quality” of such radically different environments, using the same basis, is a fool’s errand.  Success in the classroom is similar to success in real life, it simply looks different for everyone.  Different populations of students with unique needs and teachers with unique skill-sets are invariably different. Society must come to embrace the diversity of excellence, and how it manifests across schools. 

Successful schools tailor their course and extracurricular offerings to match the student and staff interests and abilities.  Student interest is a critical ingredient for school success.  Being an ATR has allowed me to witness how the same student, engages in learning across different content areas and classes. That is to say, a student who thrives in group work in a History class, may be reserved and quiet in a science class.  Discovering indeed that a particular student learns best through group activities, may be a critical piece of information that educators fail to notice with some students. Why would they not? Indeed the single content area focus, as well as departments based on subject area, often place barriers in terms of teacher's  knowledge of students. Exploring how an individual student learns, is a critical feature of student success, and one that must be understood by members across of a school community. In an ATR role, it becomes apparent that every student has learning preferences, and these must be understood to best support student learning on a student-by-student level. 

Overall, rather than viewing the ATR experience as one of diminished responsibly and growth, I have engaged these past years in this role in a manner which illuminated me to the experience of learning within the public schools of New York City.  Teaching in a plethora of schools, across grade levels, across content domains, and with some of the finest educators to wonderful students who strive forward each day in spite of the many obstacles, has been one of the most enriching teaching experiences I could have ever imagined. 

- Nick Weber, ATR